Tag Archives: Renewable energy

Green Business Ideas – Solar Power to make Construction Cheaper.

As the World in this March was introduced to the SREX report on Climate Change by the IPCC. The importance of civilization switching itself from fossil fuel to cleaner source of energy cannot be underscored, should it want to survive.

However to really see a boost in this sector there needs to be innovation and active participation from all stake-holders.

While there has been some traction in the effort to harness Renewable Energy in India for some time under the National Action Plan for Climate Change. With the various Missions like

  • National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes:
  • Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments;
  • A goal of increasing production of photovoltaics to 1000 MW/year; and
  • A goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.
    Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research center, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends:
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
  • National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
  • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling and increased international collaboration.  It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While for a follower of Energy articles, the immediate focus would be with the Missions that are directly related to the industry, it is important for all to understand the reason behind all the missions. For they are inter-related in some ways or the other.

For example, with an understanding on the Strategic Knowledge for Climate; the RE sector entrepreneurs would have an understanding of the exact solutions which would not only benefit the planet but also give the right boost to the industry.

Likewise if we wish to retain the Himalayan Ecosystem, which is a source for perennial Water, the latter mission also gets addressed. So would be able to retain a forest cover while building a Sustainable Habitat if we look towards innovations which could capture the essence of the Missions as a whole.

The NAPCC further states, the following and this is where the present Green Business Idea takes off –

Other Programs

The NAPCC also describes other ongoing initiatives, including: 

  • Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and supercritical technologies.
  • Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
  • Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy-consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.


Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits.

One such innovation is Solar for the Construction Industry.

Let’s understand how the Building & Construction Sector works. While they have not been given the sectorial stamp of the Infrastructure Industry, by the Government in all it’s wisdom. (And perhaps thereby allowing vested interests to continue wanton destruction of the Eco-system; which to an extent would have perhaps be negated with being associated as infrastructure industry which bear more scrutiny.) That the workings are more or less the same can’t be denied.

So while one builds residential & commercial complexes, there is a need for continuous and reliable source of power. If one is building within the city limits of some Indian megalopolis, “temporary power” as construction power is often termed, is availed by the builder/developer at a price higher than what the DISCOMS would provide to its consumers.

In some cities it is ₹14/- per KW. And in places where they need to depend on DG-set, the operating cost with diesel and its maintenance may shoot the cost anywhere between ₹16 – ₹22. The more remote the location the more use of DG. And this shoots up the cost of construction.

The additional burden is naturally passed on to the consumer. In most cases the average middle-class home/shop buyer. And if the market is not promising enough, some developers to keep the retail price within acceptable limits compromise on the quality of built space.

And it is precisely here that the Solar Industry can play a crucial role.

To those who are familiar with construction, they would understand that one of the main draw of energy comes from the Tower Crane and the Batching Plant. As much as 250KVA can be attributed to them which in large construction sites work day and night.

Should this be replaced by Solar Power during day-time use, either in-situ if there is space for it or via wheeling. A quantum jump in the requirement of Solar PV would give the right boost to the industry.


The Solar power can be provided in two ways. First and the easiest would be to through Wheeling. Wheeling is the term used for getting an open access to the already established Grid power line and by evacuating the generated power, through a 33/11 KVA transformer as would be the case, from the plot of land where the Solar Park can be established.

Some states have a free-wheeling policy and it is here that one must focus in growing this form of business.

A solar EPC can approach investors or even a builder/developer group and ask them to invest to put up a park which would help them achieve perennial source of Solar power, at a discounted rate. This would help reduce the CAPEX on the project. While how much of the benefit would be passed on to the end-user would be a subject of consultation, unless that becomes a clause by the Government, committed to its social obligation.


The in-situ option is more for larger construction companies such as L&T –Constructions, Punj Lloyd Group, GVK group, GMR group etcetera. Who take up infrastructure projects in remote locations. Where even the Grid Power lines at times not found going over-head. Here the project can be operationalized in smaller time-frame should the portable-cabins, ware-houses and worker quarters have in-built Solar panels, which can then feed a minimum power to start work faster, without depending on the large diesel generators.

And to make it a success innovation and collaboration both is required. The innovation is already explained. The collaboration which is required is that with a design firm which understands both Renewable Energy and Architecture, to create the space where normally there would be none found. Also in the case of infrastructure projects, the SPV have to be designed in a CKD format for easier transport and installation. Further, in this the orientation and latitude also plays a great part which needs to be adjustable every-time.

That this idea has already been tested and found approval is from the fact that the article is being written about it, if I may say so.

For any Sustainable Design Architects; they would find this as one of the primary drivers to attain the goal as envisaged in the National Action Plan on Sustainable Habitat. While at the same time carry the nascent industry of Solar, which needs all the care and support in this Sun blessed country.


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Renewable Power versus Powerful….

If the Nation and the rest of the World wants to come out of the slump of slow economy. It really needs to heed the thoughts of WBSCD and CIICESD at home.

Assessing the Investment Climate for Climate Investments in South Asia

  • As demand for energy grows in South Asia, so do greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising at about 3.3% per year in the region since 1990.
  • A new World Bank study evaluates the environment for private sector investment in climate mitigation or low-carbon technologies.
  • The study finds that the impact of government frameworks on clean energy investments has been mixed, and there is considerable variation in the approach to low-carbon and clean energy investments.

Recently the Indian  Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, was in Mumbai to launch the Solar Mini-Grids for Rural Electrification, a road map to 100% Energy access for India by its 75th Independence anniversary.  The research work is a stellar task by Ms. Shruti Mahajan Deorah & Ms. Leena Chandran – Wadia both fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

While it is true that the amount of energy we need can not come from the roof-tops, another research paper launched at the same meet was the Mumbai Solar Mission, which talks out using every usable roof-top in Mumbai to power the city. A paper compiled by Rishi Aggarwal & Aditya Khandekar of the ORF. As a conceptual proposal it holds the promise of changing the energy map of India.

While what is said in it, is not something new to those who have perused this field for sometime but, as a paper it needs to be made public. Distributed if need be on the news-paper stands for the public to read and debate on it.

With a resounding and passionate speech Dr. Faroukh Abdullah, minister MNRE almost made the dream of achieving perennial solar energy achievable and hope was rekindled. To be quickly lost when the opposition from the officials running the conventional power sector made it amply clear that they would in no way support this fledging industry to prosper and take wings. At least not with its infrastructure support at present.

An aware world supports Renewable Energy, the governments seem to making the right moves. Yet the future of renewable energy looks to be far away from the golden era it should have basked in by now.

So where is it that we are getting this wrong ? Let’s analyse some thoughts..

It is the approach… it has nothing to do with economics. It is the way the Mathematics of it is presented and believed. Pit it against cross-subsidy and subsidised kerosene distributed over a flawed PDS system, it would be a winner!  More on these thoughts can be found under –

1.Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos.

2.Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry

We still have not come out of the conventional thinking to make this great promise of Solar Power accessible in a way it should.

For starters, to whom does one go in order to understand the dynamics of power distribution and generation ? Obviously to those who have experience in this matter. And they usually are fellows who have devoted their lives in understanding the ways of fossil fuel based energy source. It would be highly unlikely that these experts can give a consistent and coherent advice on Solar.

Further, those who are in active service in the power sector have also the added responsibility to book profits from their area of responsibility. Thus a Coal secretary, or a Managing Director of thermal power plant would not want to waste his/her time in promoting something which is hostile to its business.

Neither would the Power Grid Boss want to give up the transmission lines to host of small players who would want to wheel power from one point to another. It is a tedious task to keep check on what is happening at any given time with the conventional supply, to add the task of evacuating electricity from mini-grids. It requires a certain kind of mindset to do so, and changing mind-set is an all-time barrier challenge.

Thus we keep hearing about Net Metering is about to start and the wait till now has been long drawn. That it would happen is for sure, but we have to wait for that to become a practice Pan India.

For Solar Power to be more powerful than the powerful fossil fuel lobby, it needs the support of the 49% of the India’s electorate – Women! If they want it, no economist can deny them…for in most Indian homes she is the finance minister…and she knows her math! And she is the most powerful.

The tought is beautifully highlighted in this advertisement by Tata Tea. While I endorse the idea of women empowerment, what I want to highlight is the stove on which the protagonist brews the tea..what if the fuel in it came from solar power…an induction stove / hot-plate directly connected to a small solar panel just outside the kitchen window, acting as its window shade, while powering a small UPS to give enough power for day/night operation ! (more on this idea)


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Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night.

In the Indian Express Newspaper on the 19th October, a news caught the eye of one of my friend and client, for whom I’m designing a Green township. Rooftops as Energy FarmsGujarat has launched a pilot project where rooftops of homes and commercial establishments are being rented out to generate solar power that is fed into the state grid, translating into a source of income for property owners and greening electricity production.

The State of Gujrat, under CM Narendra Modi is quite tuned to the Climate change and understands the need to engage the common person in creating an energy surplus state. With each house-hold given the incentive of Rupee 3/- via the Grid interactive system. Starting with Gandhinagar, the program of giving ‘carbon credits’ to five more cities have been approved by the Gujrat government. One hopes the rest of India would follow this sensible way of boosting the energy issue, without courting controversy.

Net metering is an electricity policy for consumers who own (generally small) renewable energy facilities (such as wind, solar power or home fuel cells) or V2G electric vehicles. “Net”, in this context, is used in the sense of meaning “what remains after deductions” — in this case, the deduction of any energy outflows from metered energy inflows. Under net metering, a system owner receives retail credit for at least a portion of the electricity they generate. (Source: Wikipedia)

In simpler words, When your home is equipped with a renewable energy source (such as wind or solar power), it sends the excess energy that’s generated back into the grid to power other homes. While you’re away, your house is generating energy but you’re not using it. Net metering ensures the energy you generate at home doesn’t go to waste. An electrical converter called an inverter turns the DC (direct current) power coming from your renewable energy source into AC (alternating current) power, which matches the voltage of the electricity flowing through the power line. If you’ve generated more energy than you’ve used at the end of the year, your electric company may pay you back for the extra power. Net metering can be measured over the month or year. Annualized net metering provides a more accurate measurement because it takes into account your changing energy usage and production over the four seasons. ( Source:How Stuff Works).

This week Tamil Nadu opened up the GBI –The scheme of generation-based incentive (GBI), essentially aimed at covering domestic consumers, will be administered jointly by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (Teda) and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco). Included in the recently unveiled Solar Energy Policy, the scheme envisages providing Rs. 2 per unit for the first two years; Re. 1 per unit for the next two years and 50 paise per unit for the subsequent two years.

While it is good to see that the state after state is awaking to the solar policy and even looking at giving a return, what they also need to look at is innovation. The most important factor is who would be the beneficiary of this GBI ? Will it actually elevate the suffering of the needy? Who guarantees that the surplus power thus created would eventually given back to the very locality which is providing the roof-tops? With states having shortfall in their generation, it would be easy to send the power for commercial use and thus encourage more commercial enterprises to set shop; having found assured power. This is most possible because commercial power brings in more profit to the electric company. The other profitable venture is from the rich residential area where the tariff is decent. However, the rich and the upper middle class in megalopolises, live in tall sky-scrapers where open roof-top is a premium. But they require system which is minimum 5KW. Here the price becomes steep even if space can be found even for most upper middle class consumers.

The roof-tops which is available & most need the power belong to the tier-II cities middle class and the rural poor, who are already finding hard to make ends meet. With, the cost per watt peak between INR 50/- to 120/-  which per Kilo Watt translates to One Lakh Twenty thousand, is not something every “Aam Admi” ( aam = common; it also denotes – Mangoes) can aspire to purchase and that is something our policy makers have not thought about. A person who uses only 5kwhr of power or 5units a day is not someone who could or need to spend Rupee 1.2 lakh or $ 2232. Therefore, it could be easy for the unscrupulous to capture vast rooftops, set up the solar and skim the poor roof-top owners. Imagine, the economically weaker section providing their collective roof-tops at the city fringes and receiving Paise Ten of every Rupee envisaged in the scheme, while the rest the “investor” pockets. It is not that such eventuality would not have been thought by the policy makers, but who would be monitoring? In the “scam a week” India of today, every utopian idea can get bastardized easily.

But, here is the way one may improve the concept and provide the power to one and all especially the middle class, who are a fairly large consumer as a group staying in class 1 cities like Pune, Bangalore and the likes where roofs; unlike Mumbai are still available in size large enough to cater to a decent solar power generation. One can also add New Delhi as the megalopolis which can afford and need the solar to stem the power outages in Summer.

There are already RESCO‘s who have been supporting my concept of OPEX Solar and the only thing they are interested is in banking the extra-generation and availing it when required from the DISCOM. Here they are wanting to put up the system which generate power during the day which is enough to cater to the needs of that very roof owner for a 24hour period.

The solution is simple. Say for example, a restaurant requires 100Kw and consumes 40KwHr during the daytime and 60KwHr in the night. As solar does not function in the night, ideally they would require a battery bank to store the power. However, if the surplus 60Kw is sent to the grid and in the evening the grid supplies that much power back to the establishment, then in effect the restaurant is running its operations on 100% Solar power. Same can be thought for residential areas which are large consumer of power.

The Grid can benefit in many ways –

1. It can charge a fee say between 2 to 5% ( similar to wheeling charges ) from the RESCO.

2. During the daytime when peak demand makes it difficult to manage, the extra solar power coming to it would ease the pressure and can be sold at commercial rate while eliminating the chance of a Grid collapse.

3. It would also help them not to short-change the rural and the urban poor, by being able to cut down on their load-shedding hours, which in certain places is 6 hours or more. Which would eventually help the countries growth.

What we require are policy which are driven from the Centre and applied equally by all states. The incentives which are envisaged are good. Let that be given to the RESCO’s who find it un-viable to provide the services to the rural and urban poor, whose tariff does not allow the companies to have a IRR which is acceptable. A decent  tariff is INR 7.50. Therefore if the state gives the extra INR 3.00 on the tariff of INR 4.50 which is the tariff in some places, almost all the roof of India would see a solar panel within 3 years.


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Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India.

Through this article, an attempt is being made to be on the top rung of the IWR-2012. We as a Nation must understand the meaning of Wealth as opposed to Riches. As the World reels in the clutch of economic depression; of its own making through continued myopic vision of the leadership, India my beloved nation is gearing up to tear away the last remaining virgin forests in the name of “development”. That development is a fundamental right of humans, the right of live of all living beings (trees, animals and even moss, lichen and bacteria)  and their importance in keeping this world alive can’t be discounted. As always, I abhor unlawful protest and mindless activism, but would attempt to find an idea for mankind to earn more riches but in the process create & preserve the natural wealth of the Nation.

In the recent report published, it is stated that the USA is abandoning RET for cheaper Gas. Many companies especially in the Solar PV business have closed shop.This is primarily because, people will adopt technologies which are cheaper. To this argument I have only one question to ask, is Gas renewable energy? It is not and it has its own set of problems, both ecological as well as geopolitical. Thus if the sum-total is added up, Gas is not cheaper as it is presented via a series of complex mathematical calculations. These calculations are made by “experts” who have no expertise on the environmental and ecological consequence. Neither are the experts on the physiological impact it would bring in the long term on the Peoples who, addicted as they are to fossil fuel go into depression, for want of continuous supply of the same. Every middle east upheaval can be attributed to this fear of change in the absence of another addictive fossil fuel, Oil. On whose slippery ground the modern civilization stands today. As far as I know in the India context, we are having a major Geopolitical tension with our Northern neighbours, who seem to be claiming a sea zone for itself. Although War is also a form of ‘renewable’ action, I don’t think it is sustainable and green, just as the shale gas for which we are going into so much trouble.

While we have some time unlike the USA, to really have an impact from gas; we surely have created a World record recently – by having the largest grid failure in the history of the civilized world. And this has renewed the baying for more coal field allocation, which is fatal to the preservation of the Ecosystem.

A modern Nation, with weak infrastructure is a recipe for disaster, as it becomes vulnerable to external malicious attacks. Imagine if we are in a grid-lock, with all  critical systems off-line ( although external defence may have back-ups but civil defence in disarray would only cause problems) and disaster strikes. Either natural or man-made, the resulting mayhem is to scary to discuss.  And this is exactly the matter which the mandarins at the Capital must be discussing. The sudden explosive actions across the Nation to increase electric tariff and diesel price, points to the direction that the last remaining saner voices within the administration are being heard and untenable subsidy may be on the way out.

The danger however is that, historically politicians across the world have a very myopic vision but superb oratory skill. And with this Devil – gifted skill, they would convince the Nation that “coal-gate scam” is actually a boon. And we must allow to rip the heart of Mother Earth ever more and extract coal, to fuel our thermal power plants and thus produce more electricity. And a few more Nuclear plants would actually ease the pain .

Environment be dammed! Already preparation are on to create a sham of the Madhav Gadgil report on the western ghats, which suggests detailed recommendations and suggestions on preservation of the Ecologically sensitive region which has even got the UNESCO status. ( details in DNA news).

But, as in all problems my beloved Nations faces, in this Great National Blackout too I see a fantastic Green Business opportunity. Together we the people, the environmentalists and the think-tanks can help our Corporate Czars, perhaps members of CIICESD and WBCSD to build upon the renewable energy options and reap the benefits. Before we delve into it let us first understand coal.

Coal is perhaps one of the most important discovery which catapulted the human civilization to its present form. Coal has various grades Lignite, Sub-bituminous coal,Bituminous coal, Steam coal, are mostly used for industrial purpose, where as Peat, Anthracite, Graphite have also found use in residential heating, agriculture and making lubricants and most importantly the Pencil . However the primary use of coal lets say to keep it simple, is for two basic purpose – It is primarily burned for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes such as refining metals. The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 77% of total global coal use. Coal & Oil along with their derivatives are here to stay and no amount of protest would stop its use and extraction completely. Let us not for a minute, forget that even the rudiments of protest which we as environmentalists are advocating & sharing via electronic media today would  be possible if the production of coal is stopped abruptly. Because we are using the very infrastructure built via use of coal.  Over the ages, with knowledge which we had during that time, coupled with complete absence of any form of protest against pollution; we have built this modern high-carbon life style completely dependent on one form of carbon or other.

However, if concerted action is taken we can within an acceptable and accelerated time-frame perhaps be able to switch over to more cleaner and renewable options which are already available in the alternative energy basket. And the way forward may be the idea I’m about to present. It would in no way be perfect, but just a seed of thought which I’m sure people with expertise can work on. And coupled with the renewable energy mission our country is attempting to take, we may just be able to increase  that scope. Especially Solar, Hybrid Solar  and Solar thermal power stations. And I propose another type of idea that which may be named – Geo-thermal + Hybrid solar, if it finds currency among the experts. And to this I appeal CAN-International, WRI and Green Peace International to find the experts who could make this possible.

Having established that Coal ( as is oil & gas ) is  a fuel, we need to see where it is being used. Again to keep it simple, we will take the largest consumers namely – 1. The Steel Plants  2. The Thermal Power plants.

In India, our steel plants come under the banner of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and they are situated in the city of  Bokaro, Bhilai, Rourkela and Durgapur. To begin with let’s see look at the area a steel plant requires and what are the allied industries within it or at close proximity. Clicking on the image one would be able to zoom into the Rourkela Steel plant, Odisha.  On one end you would notice the Slag dumping ground and exactly opposite between the CISF grounds and the Diesel Colony railway station, a massive coal yard. The coal to this plant comes from  the once beautiful place around the now famous Mahanadi Coal fields thermal power plant area  around the historic IB river valley between  Jharsuguda, Brajrajnagar and Belpahar. ( “Bel” = wood apple + pahar = hill, one should know that there are no more hills because the open cast mining has ripped this place apart ) and the the iron-ore from the last dense forest cover of Kiri Buru. A place so beautiful that it could have made one of the best hill-station of that region, if humans had not found iron -ore there.  While my limited knowledge can’t find the alternate to steel, it is however a different matter about how we can limit the use of coal.

To begin with, let us switch the use of coal as being envisaged for thermal power plants  in the  steel plants too. And use Solar Photo Voltaic to the extent possible. As the supply of coal becomes more and more scarce, the massive land area within the Steel plants which has to stock up coal  can easily be converted into land for Concentrated Solar Power panels. Coal is required as a fuel, to be burnt in blast furnaces to produce heat to produce steel. Now if we can still provide the heat through heating coils, which are powered by CSP, the job can be done. The fundamentals would be more or less the same which is being advocated by NREL Coupled with heat recovery units and in time other innovations, CSP may well be able to supply the electricity required for night-time operations too, perhaps with Nickel–iron battery (NiFe Batteries) which are reborn and  presently showing promise better than the Lithium-ion batteries. But it is obvious that the land required to produce the amount of electricity needed will not be sufficient within the plant premise. For this I would like to draw our attention to the following.

The attached     table    on degraded and wasteland  from a research paper by Indian  Council  of Agricultural Research and National Academy of Agricultural   Sciences       (double click on image for full report) shows that we have an average of 133.95 Million Hectares of degraded and wasteland. A detailed and easy to understand report it warns of the impending food crisis and climate change due to the continuous degradation of land. Excerpts – Forests occupy about 19.4% of the total geographical area of the country against the ideal requirement of 33%…. Per capita availability of inelastic land resource is rapidly declining in  relation
to annual population growth of 1.4% in the country.  Increasing GDP growth is expanding urbanization and industrialization and, therefore, more and more of agricultural lands are being utilized for non-agricultural purposes. The complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic processes compounds problems of land-use planning further. Maintaining and enhancing productive potential of our land resources is vital for progressive introduction of sustainable technologies, and thereby resilience in crop production….This challenge must and needs to be met in the face of the changing consumption patterns, impacts of the climate change and degradation of the finite land and water resources. Management of land resources, in general, and potentially cultivable lands in particular, encompasses, crop production methods that will keep pace with country’s food needs, sustaining environment, blunting impacts of climate change, preserving and enhancing natural resources, and supporting livelihood of farmers and rural population in the country. Thus, there is a pressing need for enlarging area under arable lands, by the way of reclaiming degraded lands for sustainable intensification of agriculture, in which crop yields can be increased without compromising and yielding to adverse environmental impacts and without reducing area under forests…. Land degradation, like climate change, is an anthropogenic induced process and poses biggest threat to sustainable livelihood security of the farming communities across the country. All of these factors combined with increased rate of land degradation are contributing towards decline in agricultural productivity leading to food insecurity. Since land resources are finite, requisite measures are required to reclaim degraded and wastelands, so that areas going out of cultivation due to social and economic reasons are replenished by reclaiming these lands and by arresting further loss of production potential.
In all this dark and doom, one can see that India’s democratic foundation is strong and its institutions work. Only the reports which can actually make a positive impact gets buried in Crony Capitalism and narrow political agenda of a few. That there is a rot in the cart of apples is evident, therefore the better ones are in grave danger and need all the more to connect to the pulse of the people and do the right thing.

And if the recent buzz is to be believed we are going to lose a massive forest cover sooner than later for mining coal for feeding our thermal power and steel plants. And this can be reduced if not stopped.

And that would be to identify the completely degraded land and set up Solar plants in them to offset the needs of the power and steel industry. According to the Wasteland Map of India–NRSA data, land which comes under Physical degradation that is – Mining and industrial waste 0.19 million hectares; Water-logging (permanent surface inundation) 0.88 million hectares; and as per Salt-Af fected Soils Map of India,CSSRI, NBSS & LUP, NRSA and others, land under Chemical degradation ie; Exclusively salt affected soils amount to 5.44million hectares.

If one visits the coal -belt area between Durgapur Steel Plant and Asansol ( Burnpur steel from British era ) and halt at Andal junction, one would find huge tracts of waste land, where not even a single blade of grass grow. While underground mining is relatively better for the ecology  but how far biological reclamation is possible needs to be understood, as this Newsletter of ISEB India has touched upon.  Therefore one suggestion could be that solar power plants be installed in these degraded land. Even the permanent water logged abandoned mine areas and contaminated water from the mines which are run-off can be taken into good use by converting them into the mini-source of water, which is what in the form of steam runs the turbines of a thermal power plant to generate electricity.

And the most important innovation would be to tap into the heat of the smouldering underground fire which these vast mine fields have ignited.By using Geothermal Technology. It is a phenomena found World wide and I can not fathom how the great corporate Czars have not yet thought of exploring this heat to electricity and earn a Noble Prize in the process.

The Greatest Green Business Idea till now would be that with one deft stroke, where-ever possible ( everything is possible if economics do not come in the way, just as it does not when a Nation hosts the Olympics, spending billions on stadia which would hardly see the same amount of use, ever again ) degraded land especially near Steel plants and Thermal power plants need to install CSP. And capture the latent heat from the vast burning underground coal fields to supplement the night-time requirements.   A strong policy which looks into the aspects of support as required by this fledgling RET industry must be given. And for those who are wondering how to capture the heat from the burning coal-fields just read-up on geo-thermal technology.

As mentioned in my earlier article, the private sector is already geared up to meet this challenge and some of the players would jump into the opportunity of Build Own Operate and Transfer model (BOOT).  The challenge is would the media house and the top environment NGO’s take this matter up to create a crescendo of public awareness, thus making the government take action !

Note:  The images used have their original urls attached to them (and the articles therein are a must read) as are underlined links which contain the complete story to support this article. These images are only for representation purpose, however if the idea in the article helps recover any waste land for good use, I shall be grateful.


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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living

A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.


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Energy Efficient Buildings are a tribute to the Environment

It is being foretold by many experts, that it would be innovative business strategy and restructuring of the Corporate conduct which would help stop Global Warming.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and The CII -ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CIICESD) are perhaps the vanguard for abatement of Climate Change, should one agree to the statement above.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CIICESD which generates awareness & thought leadership, and builds organization capacity to achieve sustainability and the WBCSD which is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. These organisations, soon be able to convince all business to morph into what is now becoming popular in the USA and soon would encompass the World, the B-CORP . It is not only the matter of Salvation of the Earth, but deeply entwined with Earth’s fate is the survival of the Business community and thus by default the modern society itself.

Close cooperation between all stakeholders in society is essential to creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. And the key elements of all business revolve around 3 fundamental needs of humans – Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Sustainable village would be one which is fashioned such, that it ultimately provides near self sufficiency in most areas and excel in some; which become the  core trading with other self-sufficient towns but lacking expertise or sufficiency in those which the other has. Thus a perfect symbiosis and balance can be achieved. But the first step to obtain the desired level of sustainability and making it norm, would require us to build the new cities and retro-fit, where possible the old ones in accordance to the ideas of sustainability.  Below is an attempt to provide a very brief over-view of what should be achieved.


The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements:

Residential buildings — housing the population; and

Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more sole occupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration andDefense


Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:
1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials]
2. The mix of fuels used;
3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and
4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%
• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt
• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%
• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. Building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totalling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.


The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through:
1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings;
2. Greater use of natural light;
3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration;
4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible;
5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use;
6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation.
7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by:
1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles;
2. Use of natural ventilation where possible;
3. The use of more efficient office appliances;
4. Better insulation;
5. Improved heating and ventilation;
6. The use of efficient light fixtures;
7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems; and
8. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

Under each area, detailed topics have been sorted out according to time span to wide adoption in construction:
1. State-of the art [current situation]: technologies that are already commonly used in the industry form the baseline for future development,
2. Short term […2013]: technologies that are available and are ready for being used in construction;
3. Medium term […2020]: technologies that offer beneficial opportunities for construction but need to be adopted or further developed for construction.
4. Long term […2030]: emerging new technologies that are deemed to offer benefits to construction in ling term in applications that still need to be identified.


1. Design and demonstrate energy positive new building solutions:
1. RE -driven µCHCP [“combined heat, cooling, and power production”]
2. Smart & small AHU
3. Passive energy storing construction materials/design
4. LED/Induction Lighting
5. Smart glazing
6. E&C [effective daylight capture through ceiling]
2. Design and demonstrate prefabricated and modular energy retrofit solutions, like:
1. Multifunctional building envelope solutions
2. Low temperature heating and cooling solutions [ LowEX ]
3. Hybrid ventilation solutions
4. Advanced lighting solutions
5. Building and community systems
3. Develop performance indicators and criteria for sustainability, environmental impacts and GHG reductions in buildings [ low energy class, energy star , etc]
4. Develop advanced control system, sensor networks, user-interfaces and information management technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts in buildings and communities : wireless sensor/ actuator network; smart meters; dynamic heat and power grids.

End-use efficiency gains are likely to take the lion’s share of energy reductions, and in many cases will be the most economically viable option. Analysis of the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy shows that substantial reductions are needed both in energy generation and consumption.

There are three elements:
1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient
2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources
3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings


5. Design and demonstrate more solutions for energy positive buildings [new & retrofit]:
1. Vacuum frame
2. Cabrio-facades
3. Lego (retrofitting) building elements & interior furbishing
4. Compact seasonal heat/cold storages
6. Demonstrate Zero -or Plus-Energy communities
1. Intuitive, educational, self-learning E & C ms
2. HRU-bank for HHA [and waste water]
7. Develop more solutions for energy positive new buildings and retrofit:
1. Thermo-chemical material for heat storage
2. Daylight storage
3. H2produced from the sun
4. Vacuum envelope
8. Develop solutions supporting energy positive communities:
1. Energy -HUB; economic driven buildings [industry] & transport
2. DC grids
3. PV&T wipe & pipe free
4. Wireless energy exchange
9. Demonstrate Sustainable communities
1. Economic efficiency by integrated system optimization [optimal use of energy]

It is now time that all stake-holders, should enter the market, there are opportunities for architects, engineers, property developers, the finance community and others in the building sector to capitalize on energy efficiency opportunities to build the “hybrid house”.

Private Sector Jobs - April 2011

Private Sector Jobs – April 2011 (Photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi)

Business which are totally moribund can be revitalized with new energy and direction. Architects should be ready to take the responsibility to act as the integrator of different systems, building parts and services into a solution that fulfils the end-user’s needs. And create Buildings that are G.O.L.D (Globally Optimised Locally Designed). Instead of components or buildings, offering integrated and performance based solutions for energy efficient & environmentally friendly buildings and communities that support sustainability.

Courtesy: WBCSD


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Greening The HVAC Energy Supply

English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an offi...

English: A huge double HVAC exhaust of an office building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The HVAC &R industry is transforming and morphing itself to the needs of the current Environmental scenario. They are packing more efficiency with less energy consumption and maintenance needs. The home versions too are coming with intelligent functions and sleeker smaller sizes which blend with the décor. Yet there is one thing which the industry requires to truly make it, what the environmentalist can call a GHG friendly product. And that is tie it to a power source which is a RE (renewable energy) source.
Imagine the advantage, a major revenue consumer like the HVAC & R, would have as an impact to the market if RE could be packaged to it. Let us examine the possibilities and potential of this concept.
Renewable Energy source such as Geo-thermal (rock-heat essentially) combined with a Gas based electric source would be the choice where the premise has the space but not the roof-top which can hold the other RE-source that is a Solar +Wind hybrid.
This is a solution which the HVAC&R industry should study closely, especially in light of the new BEE norms that have come into play from the year 2012. While compliance to the law is a must, with a weak Rupee and a fluctuating consumer market innovation can be the only solution.

CIX Diesel Generator

CIX Diesel Generator (Photo credit: Tom Raftery)

While the roof-top AHU’s can be designed to have SPV panels on top, it would only increase the cost of the product, while making some energy generation green. However if the HVAC &R industry tie up with the nascent SPV industry which are offering Solar Solution in the Operation Expense Format, it can revolutionize the market dynamics.
Let’s first understand the OPEX-Solar model. In this model the certain SPV companies are offering solution in which the total EPC and O&M expense is being borne by the SPV Company for a minimum period of 15 years before handing over the ownership of the asset to the user. All that the Solar Co’s are asking is the tariff as generated. Although this model is already a success on individual roof-tops and can be provided for up to 1MW on connected load, this requires proper Government support to be able to increase the load to above 2MW and at nominal wheeling charges.
It would create a win-win situation for both the HVAC&R industry and the Solar Photo Voltaic industry and a revolution in India in the Clean Tech – HVAC & R space.

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing ...

English: Worldwide Renewable energy, existing capacities, at end of 2008, from REN21. Total energy is from BP Statistical Review. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another area which the HVAC & R tied to RE can get advantage from is synchronizing their system to Diesel Generators. During Grid power failure, the captive power used to run the HVAC & R plants are large Diesel Generators and an expensive option. Diesel is used for various purposes. Trucks (37%), Passenger Cars (15%), Buses (12%), Agriculture (12%), Industry (10%) and Power generation (8%). If we add the last three we get 30% of the total diesel pie of which we can easily allocate 40% as to be utilized for use of HVAC & R, by these three industries, for the purpose of cold storage, shop –floor cooling & cooling administration offices. Therefore with HVAC equipments tied to RE, the industry create a space which has no parallel till date. And in the process opens up a funding line which was till now only given for Clean technology purposes.


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